The Talent Gap – Can We Compete?

Richard Heathcote

I have been busy trying to make sense of my feelings about Inter this up coming season. As I have trying to come to terms I have been staying away from the comments sections of the articles because I really don’t know what my opinion on stuff going on are and I don’t think I am passionate enough about certain topics this season to bring any brimstone.

And I think that I have come to the realization that I don’t think that Inter have the talent to do much competing this season and I am kind of disappointed considering the really deep disappointment I had from last season.

As I said, I have been staying away from the comments on purpose because I just didn’t know what was in my mind. But I think I have it – I don’t think our midfield is up to the task.

Right now people are probably thinking, "Look we played Milan and Juventus really tough, we took 4 points from Milan, and we played Juventus even, maybe the coaching change can add some consistency."

And I don’t disagree. I think that Mazzarri, if the team can adapt to his system and he can lead the team, will provide consistency. But I don’t think it’s how the team responds to playing Juventus and Milan that is the problem. I think that our team, with Cambiasso and Walter Samuel and others have enough veteran leadership to make sure that everyone is up and really playing for those games. I think our problem is going to be the Fiorentinas, the Romas, the Udineses and the Lazios (hell, throw in the Sienas in there too) – those teams where the incentive or the intensity may not be the same as in a Derby. However, these teams are usually pretty rigorously coached and their midfields are all worlds ahead of what we got – and they all made us pay through midfield domination.

If this team had a problem last season, it was the midfield – there is no doubt in my mind. Teams waltzed right through the middle. There was little to no support for the defense. There was little or no support for the attack. We didn’t close down quickly at times. We gave up to much space at times. We would sacrifice the middle to defend the wings or we would sacrifice the circle to defend the box. It was a sheet too small for the bed, like there was always something exposed and it was all due to the fact that the personnel that made up the midfield was insufficient to the task – they just weren’t good enough/tough enough/fit enough to cover. And if we suffered catastrophic injuries, those were merely the proverbial last straw to a team that was desperately fighting to hold itself together in spite of a poorly built foundation.

One only has to look at the top seven teams in the league last season. Every one of them had question marks to some degree last season including the team at the very top – but every one of those teams has a better midfield than ours. I would even argue that Catania’s successful season last year was because they were able to support a suspect attack and a suspect defense with a group that had both dynamic and technical elements that at times - home games - were very good at working together.

And I contrast that with Inter and I am at a loss to think when, late in the season, the midfield looked like it was going to stabilize the injury torn extreme ends of the team. It never did. I recall the away game against Catania when they came right down the middle of the field three or four times and just looked like there was nothing standing between them and the penalty area.

You can tell me that Mazzarri will have the team better organized, and I’ll believe you. But what others won’t be able to do, and what I haven’t convinced myself of yet is that the foundation of the team is going to be secured. I look at the roster and I don’t see those guys yet, those diverse elements that I can categorize and say – that’s the DM, that’s the director, that’s the workhorse, that’s the playmaker – and have those guys on our team be better than those guys on Juve, Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio, Roma, etc.

Could I be completely wrong and Mazzarri surprise me? Sure that’s very possible. Maybe this is the year that Obi steps up and really kills it. Maybe it’s Duncan. Maybe Kovacic fulfills a huge chunk of his prodigious potential. And you know what, maybe the attack makes up for the midfield like it did last season – but what worries me is that when that attack wasn’t there or didn’t produce... that poor midfield got exposed. Big time.

And looking forward to the training game tomorrow, this is what’s going through my head. I am desperately bored of all the random speculation and laughing at Tuttosport is really only amusing for the first week. I really would like to talk about how Mazzarri has the team working together… or not as the case maybe if the team isn’t getting it. More than that I want some assurance, some secure feeling that something is being done.

Last season I said that all I wanted was across the board improvement. I wanted the team to be younger, I wanted the team to be more financially stable, I wanted the product on the field to be better than what it was 2 seasons ago. I was really let down on that last one. Everything else seems to be getting better – but I won’t be optimistic about that last bit until I see it. And by IT I mean that blasted midfield.


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